BOSTON (CBS) – It was clear after Sunday’s disappointing loss in the AFC Championship Game that the Patriots just don’t have the horses to run with Peyton Manning’s Broncos.

Tom Brady needs more offensive weapons, and if the defense can stay healthy that might be enough to be a championship-caliber team.

Esiason On Toucher & Rich: Brady Needs More Playmakers, But Will Patriots Spend Money?

The Boston Globe’s Shalise Manza Young squashed the hopes of fans everywhere during her Wednesday morning appearance on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich program when she said the Patriots would be hesitant to make big splashes in the offseason, because a good portion of their money is already tied up – with Aaron Hernandez.

“The Patriots are still dealing with the Aaron Hernandez situation, and technically they still do owe him money for the coming season with the way they structured his contract. They have to work under the assumption that they are going to be hamstrung by that Aaron Hernandez money.”

However, there’s still a way the team could absolve themselves of that money.

“The one thing that could work out in their favor is if the grand jury comes back and Hernandez is indicted for that double murder in 2012, then that means the Patriots have a much better chance of not owing him anything, because it means at the time of the contract extension he did not sign it in good faith to the best of my understanding,” said Shalise Manza Young.

Toucher & Rich: Big Offseason Decisions Looming For Patriots

Shalise envisions a scenario where it would be hard for the Patriots to keep Julian Edelman, so that means either Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins or Josh Boyce has to make a big second-year jump to be viable receiving options for Brady.

Lastly, longtime Belichick assistant Pepper Johnson parted ways with the team yesterday, which came as a surprise to fans and those who cover the Pats.

Based on his public statement, Shalise believes it was “just time to move on” – but thinks him being passed over for defensive coordinator in 2012 for Matt Patricia could have something to do with it.

Listen below for the full discussion, where you’ll hear some positions the Pats could target in the draft, as well as other Patriots-related items:

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